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Fusion splicing

Fusion splicing
Fusion splicing is the act of joining two optical fibers end-to-end using heat. The
goal is to fuse the two fibers together in such a way that light passing through the
fibers is not scattered or reflected back by the splice, and so that the splice and
the region surrounding it are almost as strong as the virgin fiber itself. The source
of heat is usually an electric arc, but can also be a laser, or a gas flame, or a
tungsten filament through which current is passed.

A modern fusion splicer

The process of fusion splicing normally involves using localized heat to melt or fuse the ends of two optical fibers
together. The splicing process begins by preparing each fiber end for fusion.

Stripping the fiber

Stripping is the act of removing the protective polymer coating around optical fiber in preparation for fusion
splicing. The splicing process begins by preparing both fiber ends for fusion, which requires that all protective
coating is removed or stripped from the ends of each fiber. Fiber optical stripping is usually carried out by a special
stripping and preparation unit that uses hot sulphuric acid or a controlled flow of hot air to remove the coating. There
are also mechanical tools used for stripping fiber which are similar to copper wire strippers. Fiber optical stripping
and preparation equipment used in fusion splicing is commercially available through a small number of specialized
companies, which usually also designs machines used for fiber optical recoating.

Cleaning the fiber

The bare fibers are cleaned using alcohol and wipes.

Cleaving the fiber

The fiber is then cleaved using the score-and-break method so that its endface is perfectly flat and perpendicular to
the axis of the fiber. The quality of each fiber end is inspected using a microscope. In fusion splicing, splice loss is a
direct function of the angles and quality of the two fiber-end faces. The closer to 90 degrees the cleave angle is the
lower optical loss the splice will yield.

Fusion splicing

Splicing the fibers

Current fusion splicers are either core or cladding alignment. Using
one of these methods the two cleaved fibers are automatically aligned
by the fusion splicer in the x,y,z plane, then are fused together. Prior to
removing the spliced fiber from the fusion splicer, a proof-test
performed to ensure that the splice is strong enough to survive
handling, packaging and extended use. The bare fiber area is protected
either by recoating or with a splice protector. A splice protector is a
heat shrinkable tube with a strength membrane.
Fiber spliced, still unprotected

A simplified optical splicing procedure includes:


Characteristics of placement of the splicing process.

Checking fiber optic splice closure content and supplementary kits.
Cable installation in oval outlet.
Cable preparation.
Organization of the fibers inside the tray.
Installing the heat shrinkable sleeve and testing it.

The basic fusion splicing apparatus consists of two fixtures on which the fibers are mounted and two electrodes.
These fixtures are often called sheath clamps. Inspection microscope assists in the placement of the prepared fiber
ends into a fusion-splicing apparatus. The fibers are placed into the apparatus, aligned, and then fused together.
Initially, fusion splicing used nichrome wire as the heating element to melt or fuse fibers together. New
fusion-splicing techniques have replaced the nichrome wire with carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers, electric arcs, or gas
flames to heat the fiber ends, causing them to fuse together. The small size of the fusion splice and the development
of automated fusion-splicing machines have made electric arc fusion (arc fusion) one of the most popular splicing
techniques in commercial applications.
Alternatives to fusion splicing include using optical fiber connectors or mechanical splices both of which have
higher insertion losses, lower reliability and higher return losses than fusion splicing.

Governing standards

Further reading
Introduction to Fiber Optics ( by John Crisp

Article Sources and Contributors

Article Sources and Contributors

Fusion splicing Source: Contributors: A5b, Afluegel, Anthony81212, Bartoki, Bdebear, Chiwawa 42, Dratoff, Flopsy Mopsy and
Cottonmouth, Gobonobo, Hasanunsal, Imaginationac, Madalibi, Mindmatrix, Mr Splicer, MrOllie, Quebec99, Srleffler, Surpluseq, Tetenyi, Thumperward, Timsellars1027, WCroslan, Widr, 50
anonymous edits

Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors

File:Core alignment splicer by Ilsintech.png Source: License: Creative Commons
Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Contributors: User:Hasan nsal
File:Optical fiber fusion splicing.jpg Source: License: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0
Contributors: Jrme Nicolle

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